Starcraft Diaries: Lessons Learned at the Asscrack of Dawn



Never try to win “for reals” in the morning before you go to work.  Sure, it’s great when you do crush your foes in an epic battle – then you can go to work with stories of your grand victories until everyone in the office starts backing away slowly because you’re talking complete and utter nonsense.  Seriously, trying to explain a match in Starcraft to someone who’s never played it before is hilarious.  In almost any other genre it’s pretty easy to explain to a non-gamer what’s going on.  For example:



God of War: I have these baddass chain swords attached to my arms and I murder all the things and dance upon their corpses when I’m done.  Oh also, my family is dead by my own hand so I am tragic and pale.



Reaction: Violent, but otherwise totally reasonable.



Final Fantasy VII:  I am a vaguely feminine super-soldier with a really big sword and a posse of lovable weirdos trying to save the planet from being blown up by another vaguely feminine super-soldier also with a really big sword.  And his zombie alien mother who lives in a vat.  Also my memories are all faked because POLLUTION and zombie alien mom cells.


Reaction: Uh, little weird.  But the jist is clear-ish.


Call of Duty:  I have a gun.  I shoot things with my gun and they die.  Sometimes I get better guns.


Reaction: So that’s it, huh?  Got it.


Starcraft:  So I managed to pop out 3 Colossi by the 10-minute mark and push into his expansion while I took a third base and transitioned to Speedlot/Archon with +2/+2.  Got a little dicey when he pushed my front with a Marauder/Medivac army but I held it off and still had units and a pylon by his base so I decided to GFKH.  That's short for Go Effing Kill Him.


Reaction: You are a crazy person and I think your desk should be so far away from mine that we have to communicate via subspace.


I feel like I should warn people when I’m about to go on a tear talking about matches I’ve played.  Personally I love talking gaming anecdotes, as evidenced by the hours of conversation I’ve had with friends about our Skyrim characters.  But if you don’t play the game in question it could be a little dry and incomprehensible.  Anyway, anecdotes ahoy!  Holy alliteration, Batman!


Ok, now what was I talking about?  Right, don’t play to win before you go to work.  Case in point, yesterday I tried that and I was up against a Random whose first words to me after I wished him fun and luck were “@#$%! cheeser!”.  Silly Battle.net swear filters.  And then something else that was mostly “$%#!@”.  Anyways the game dragged on super long and if I hadn’t had to quit so I could leave for work (and was almost late) I probably would have won.  I’ll admit to some bad manners when I left – I told him I would’ve said “well played” except for the fact that he was an #@$hole.  So I was rushed and angry and the day was not as awesome as it could have been.


This morning was different.  I decided to do some completely bone-headed things on the ladder and accept that I would probably lose but the losses would be hilarious and help me with my mechanics and macro.  I completely threw strategy and army composition out the window and focused on building only one unit in the first game and two in the second game.


So, what should a Protoss chose for a 1v1 Monobattle?  Stalkers?  Well, you could win but that would be boring.  Skillrays?  Everybody masses those.  So... ARCHONS.  I lost to another Protoss but it was some of the most fun I’ve had on the ladder in a long time.  First I had to worry about dying early because all I had were cannons and a mothership core.  And I’m sure my base would have looked hilarious because until I got my Dark Shrine up I had a gajillion gateways and no units.  And I had all these extra minerals because I was expanding all over the place to get more gas so I used them to put cannons everywhere.  I even thought about trying to wall off the middle of the map with cannons.  The other guy pretty much left me alone until I was maxed out, but when the battle came he was maxed too except he had an actual army that made sense.  It was a massacre, and I’m pretty sure he thought I was insane.  But do you know what a max supply Archon army looks like floating across the map?  It’s a thing of pure beauty.


The second game I decided against the mass Archons (definition of insanity and all) and decided to try the fast Zealot/Phoenix thing again.  Except this time instead of a fellow silver I was matched with an unranked Random that, as it turns out, had been in the Master League.  It was a glorious and crushing defeat; he had an observer over my base the whole time but I just ignored it because I was only building Zealots and Phoenixes.  You have to commit to these things.  At one point he even asked me what the hell I was doing, and I told him I was just taking some time to do dumb shit.  There were rofls all around as my bases died.


I usually have time for three matches before I leave for work.  On the third match I decided to play a straight game with an army that made sense and try, if not to win, at least to feel good about my performance.  And I did end up winning, and I am positive it was partly due to the fact that I’d played the first two games without any thought of trying to win, only trying to improve a couple things in my macro.  In this case it was keeping my money low (because teching up to Archons quickly is tough) and expanding on time (for the gas).  Not only that – I never intended my rush-to-Colossus PvT build to stop there.  The plan was always to start transitioning to Archons and take a third base while the Colossus push was happening.  But it never got that far before.  This time my opponent held off the push (I should have saved a couple of those gangly things but my micro is awful) and I had to execute the rest of the build.  It was GLORIOUS.  So I was in an amazing mood when I got to work.


I try to always play for fun and improvement first, but it doesn’t always happen.  Sometimes, like the other day, I just really want to win and when I don’t I get frustrated and it’s not fun anymore.  My advice to people like me, those who try to not be super-competitive but sometimes can’t help it, is to force yourself to do something stupid every once in a while just for fun.  You’ll lose.  Or sometimes you won’t.

Don’t think its lost on me that I’m talking about being competitive, seeing as when I wrote about Mass Effect 3 I identified myself as completely apathetic to winning.  But, as it turns out I have a wickedly competitive side when the game in question is as rich and challenging as Starcraft is.  Its ok, I like the taste of humble pie.  And that’s the whole purpose of journaling – to be able to look back and see how your feelings have evolved.

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